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Artificial intelligence


AI is transforming every aspect of society – from medical technology to the quality of work, mobility to education, smart cities to climate change. The prospects have been recognised globally, with Asia investing over 3 times and USA 6 times that as Europe in A.I, as was pointed out by CEO and Chairman of Orange – Stephane Richard at the very successful KPMG AI Now Summit in Paris earlier last week.

Recognising its importance, the Emirates even appointed a Minister of A.I. – Omar bin Sultan Al Olama who I had the opportunity to meet at Les Entretiens d’Abu Dhabi. Themed “A.I Toward a Better Life” it gave me the opportunity to underline that as A.I amplifies progress around the globe, we must curb the discrepancies in how A.I is constructed and used.  With great power comes great responsibility.

The panel on A.I. and mobility at Les Entretiens d’Abu Dhabi, 30th Sept

I am deeply convinced that there is a need for women in developing the algorithms that power AI. We must ensure its growth is inclusive and bridges the gaps expressed on the impact of A.I on women. For this, we must act and be heard now.  And this is one of the core topics at the upcoming Women’s Forum Global Meeting in Paris which aims to highlight that we must not reproduce the biases of the existing world but bridge humanity for an inclusive world grounded in diversity and women’s perspectives. We need more women where they can make change happen.

With our work with the Strategic Committee, the need to address bias became clear, the impact of which is already taking effect. Studies from MIT and Microsoft have highlighted how facial recognition software poorly identifies darker faces, especially when those faces belong to women. A study at Carnegie Mellon found women were far less likely than men to be shown ads on Google for highly paid jobs. Women’s leadership thus becomes crucial in the development, monitoring and analysis of A.I.

Such gaps become inevitable as was showcased by Cedric Villani in April in his outstanding study “For a Meaningful Artificial Intelligence.” He points out that in France, women represent only 11% of cybersecurity jobs, that there a 30% average pay gap between men and women engineers, that there are only 9% of French start-ups founded by women – and gives the roadmap for progress.

As a consequence, President Emmanuel Macron announced €1.5 billion to A.I. – while also implementing positive initiatives. His National Strategy for AI begins to examine these issues by incorporating institutional partners for A.I. in France. Government initiatives on digital education, equal access to opportunity, incentive policies and institutional initiatives will ensure women enrol in STEM subjects in order to contribute to a more gender equitable framework for the AI of tomorrow.

Private companies too must lead by example. Ensuring more inclusive policies and workplace culture where mentors can guide and inspire women is sure to pave way for women leaders. Sustaining equal representation on boards and executive committees is another financial and ethical imperative in shaping policy and is highlighted in our CEO Champions Initiative.

We must bring women’s voices and leadership to bear on disruptive global questions like the impact of AI, while engaging men in the process. It’s by building bridges that we’ll create solutions for a more inclusive future.

With Dr. Nada Mourtada Sabbah, Secretary General #ULC; Estelle Pagnon-Pouille; Mireille Nader, Thales Group and Hanana Arif , Société Générale at Les Entretiens